Pubdate: Wed, 10 May 2006
Source: Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2006 Lake of Two Mountains Gazette Ltd.
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


At a hearing held in Valleyfield earlier this year, a 16-year-old 
admitted drug trafficker, sexual predator, obstructer of justice and 
probation violator, made statements that were reported in Feb. 22 
Hudson/St/ Lazare Gazette. This youth, who is still awaiting 
sentencing for his role in the drug-overdose death of 13-year-old 
Stevie Reilly, dropped out of local high school classes without 
graduating in June 2005, having attained his 16th birthday. For less 
than three weeks, he was registered at a high school program called 
Odyssey, an alternative centre located in Pointe Claire's Valois Park 
Elementary School, until on September 23 he dropped out of that 
program as well. The following is a compilation of comments from 
Odyssey staff and students:

In this article, your reporters stated that the admitted drug 
trafficker - no doubt in a failed effort to lessen his responsibility 
and evade the consequences - accused "the people" at Odyssey of being 
addicted to heavy drug use.

As a staff, we were offended at the implications of these remarks, as 
they belittle the efforts and commitment of all who work here to 
guiding all teenagers to a better future.

Our students were also offended by the guilty teen's comments.

Students who attend Odyssey face many challenges, but they also make 
huge leaps and bounds in overcoming their difficulties. As people 
working through a period of transition in their lives, they deserve 
to be commended for their efforts.

They wanted to share with your readers their perspective on life at 
Odyssey. Here are a few of their contributions:

"I am a first year student at Odyssey high school.

To tell you the truth, when I came to this school I was very 
disappointed. I used to like my old school a lot. When I found out 
that my vice principal wanted me out of there I was really upset.

I didn't even want to go to school.

I will never forgive them for that. I know I wasn't the perfect kid 
but I never did drugs, deface school property or hurt anyone or anything.

I did struggle in school and, I have to admit, when it came to school 
I was a bit lazy. Now I go to Odyssey. I have four classes and I'm 
doing fairly well. I like that there are not many people in the 
classes, and I like the way the teachers teach here. This term I am 
passing all my classes with pretty high marks.

I haven't made any friends at this school and I think that the kids 
here have some problems; but when you get to know them they are 
pretty nice people.

I am happy now in a way that I left my old school because it had a 
lot of drugs, and I have found my real friends.

They go to school in Laval. I can't say that Odyssey has no drugs but 
it's up to each student to start using them or not. I have been here 
almost a year and I have not touched any drugs whatsoever. Saying 
that this school is bad is ignorant, because the school itself and 
the education that's going on in the school is good; but it's up to 
you if you want to do drugs before or after school.

The school is good; it's what you make of it that counts." "I 
couldn't believe what I heard when I read this article.

I am not a drug user but yet somehow I have been labeled as one. I am 
not a trouble maker and I have no criminal record.

I don't believe in the use of drugs and I don't believe in the 
accusations that have been aimed at myself, my classmates and my school.

There is no factual evidence that my school is the way he (the 
teenager who pled guilty) described it. This school is nothing more 
than a good environment for teens to be able to get out of high 
school and get jobs. It is more productive than my old high school on 
many levels, and I am passing what I would have been failing there.

The teachers are more understanding of the students' needs.

Finally, this school is a great place to learn; in fact, it isn't 
overrun by drugs and drug users.

It's a school for teens who wanted another chance at graduating." 
"The accused claimed that Odyssey, an alternative high school, is 
full of drug addicts.

I'm new to this school.

I started in September 2005 and I do admit there are drug users who 
attend here as there are elsewhere, but there are also other students 
who do not use drugs.

All I can say is that this school is giving a lot of my peers and 
myself another shot at a good education and a bright future.

The teachers are very patient with us and very helpful.

The kids here are understanding and respectful of the teachers, but 
like every human being out there, everyone has their good and bad 
days. The subjects we're taught are explained much more clearly and 
in more detail.

We do a lot of work and get it done with no problems.

This school has helped me a lot since September. I messed up badly in 
a regular school, Odyssey and its teachers have helped me and most of 
peers get back on track."     "Recently I read an article in your 
newspaper that reflects on the students at my school.

The guilty claimed that this school is completely filled with 
hardcore drug addicts and that is why he wanted to leave.

In reality, there are some people I'm sure who are, but that does not 
mean that the entire school is. When I read this I felt somewhat 
insulted because I would never do any of those drugs.

The way I see it, it is his last attempt to point the finger at someone.

It is almost as if he is trying to make it sound like the school is 
at fault for his drug problem.

What he did was completely wrong and he is going to have to live with 
the consequences. Hopefully he learns an important lesson from this 
experience."     "I like this school the most out of all the schools 
I have gone to. You could have called me a problem child, and now I 
am not. Here, all the staff members are awesome.

They actually sit down one on one and teach you what you don't 
understand. And it is strict here. You see people come and go, they 
don't take any * from you. For example, if you smell like pot, you 
get kicked out that day and put on alternative (afternoon) schedule.

Even if you haven't done anything yourself, you can still be blamed 
if you smell like the people you were with. These problems with drugs 
don't happen often. We are in an elementary school building.

Students here have some respect for that. Some of us even go upstairs 
to help elementary school children. We don't need to have a little 
boy or girl asking us why we smoke pot. Odyssey has transparent rules.

The students are advised of the school's expectations. It is easy to 
tell who (among the students) wants to be here and who doesn't." 
"...The one that gave the ecstasy to Stevie Reilly...has no 
credibility. He said that we do drugs and stuff like that but that's 
not at all true. Sure some of us smoke, as do many other teenagers, 
but we also have sides to us that have not been talked about in the media.

Some of us have come a long way and actually come to school every 
day. We also do our work and what the teachers ask of us. Besides, he 
admitted to doing most of what he said we did in the first place." "I 
am a student at Odyssey High school.

I have been attending this school for two years.

I have seen people come and go. The first year I attended Odyssey I 
noticed that the majority of the students improve in their academic 
and social skills. The staff monitors student progress, the 
environment is very structured, and the rules are very transparent. 
All students sign a clear contract and are therefore aware of the 
circumstances of breaking the rules. Odyssey is a friendly school.

All the students participate together and share a tight bond. When a 
student disobeys the rules, they stick out like a sore thumb.

He needs help. He had a reputation while attending our school and 
stuck out like a sore thumb.

Unfortunately, even after leaving he continued in his ways." As you 
can see, our students' school differs drastically from the 
16-year-old's false portrayal.

These teens are here to better themselves, no matter what 
circumstances led to their referral.

A large number of our students complete their high school credits, 
ready for life's ongoing challenges. Some go to CEGEP, others to 
trade school, others to work. No matter the path chosen, they learn 
crucial lessons here about the value of hard work, perseverance, and 
the benefit of a helping hand from people who care. This is the real 
school that is Odyssey, and we ask that it be fairly presented.

The Staff and Students of Odyssey High School
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